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Graduation ceremonies have become a common phenomenon in Indonesia, not only at the university level but also in lower levels of education such as kindergarten, primary school, junior high school, and senior high school. Even the graduation of those who have memorized religious scriptures is not exempt from this tradition. However, the problem lies not in the implementation of the graduation ceremony itself but in the use of academic regalia and attributes usually associated with university graduations. Graduation ceremonies, which are usually associated with university graduates who have completed advanced education, are being applied to educational levels that are still in the basic stage. This creates an impression that academic achievement is the main priority in education, whereas, at these levels of children's development, the focus should be more on holistic learning.

In general, graduation is a celebration to commemorate academic achievements and the transition from one educational stage to the next. Wearing academic regalia during graduation holds deep meanings and symbolism, representing the completion of formal education and honoring academic success.

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The use of academic regalia and the tradition of graduation have become inseparable parts of academic celebrations worldwide. Over time, this tradition has evolved and taken on various symbolic meanings that reflect academic triumph and achievement.

The history of graduation can be traced back to ancient Rome. During that time, graduation was an important celebration in the learning process. Students who completed their education would be honored with special attire as a token of appreciation for their achievements. At that time, the attire used was not a toga but a long-sleeved robe called a "tunica."

With the passage of time, graduation and the use of togas spread to various parts of the world. In Europe, this tradition continued to develop, especially at the University of Oxford and Cambridge in England. In the 14th century, students at these universities began wearing togas in their graduation ceremonies. The toga was worn as a symbol of the knowledge and skills they acquired during their studies.

In the 17th century, the tradition of graduation with academic regalia spread to the United States. Universities such as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton began adopting the use of togas in their graduation ceremonies. This reflected the strong influence of the European education system at that time.

The significance of the toga in the tradition of graduation also holds deep symbolism. Typically, togas have different colors representing the academic disciplines pursued by the graduates. For example, black togas are often worn by graduates in the arts and humanities, while blue or green togas are commonly worn by graduates in the fields of science and technology.

Furthermore, the mortarboard cap that is often worn during graduation also carries symbolic meaning. Its square shape and the tassel on top symbolize academic achievement. The tassel actually originates from the symbol for "master" (master's degree) used in past graduation traditions.

In the increasingly interconnected global context, graduation traditions and the use of academic regalia have become icons representing achievement and honor in the world of education. Although there are variations in the procedures and symbolic meanings across cultures, the essence of this celebration remains the same: to appreciate the academic journey and celebrate the accomplishments of graduates.

However, when the tradition of graduating with togas like in universities is applied at the primary and secondary education levels, it becomes something odd and controversial. Firstly, this tradition is not aligned with the original purpose of the graduation tradition itself. Fundamentally, the initial purpose of the graduation tradition is to honor and recognize the efforts and dedication of students who have completed their education. Graduation becomes an important moment where they are officially acknowledged as graduates ready to move on to the next phase of their lives, whether it be entering the workforce, pursuing further education at the master's level, or taking on larger social roles. Additionally, the graduation tradition aims to provide inspiration and motivation to the graduates. Through ceremonies filled with symbolism and beauty, they are reminded of their years of struggle in completing their education.

Secondly, the financial burden on parents is disproportionate to its benefits. Graduation, which should be a joyous and proud moment for students and parents, sometimes turns into a financial burden that is disproportionate to its benefits. This phenomenon occurs from kindergarten to high school, where parents are faced with various expenses that need to be paid for a ceremony that is not truly necessary. The costs associated with graduation at the elementary education level, such as kindergarten or primary school, often feel excessive. Parents have to pay for makeup, gown rentals, venue rentals, and the event itself, all of which burden the family's finances. As parents, they have already paid for their children's education expenses and daily needs, and additional costs for graduation only add unnecessary financial strain.

Thirdly, graduation ceremonies at the elementary education level tend to lose their intended meaning. The graduation tradition is intended for university graduates who have completed advanced education and are ready to enter the workforce or pursue higher education. However, with graduations at the kindergarten, primary school, or high school level, the original meaning of this tradition is reduced and loses its significance.

Fourthly, psychologically, graduation ceremonies at the elementary education level can impose unnecessary pressure on students. They may feel burdened by expectations to perform perfectly in front of parents and relatives, as well as the pressure to wear unfamiliar clothing and attributes. This can create a stressful atmosphere and anxiety that should not be present in a celebratory event.

Fifthly, implementing graduations at every educational level can also diminish the sacredness of the graduation tradition itself. Graduation should be a rare and special moment when university graduates are officially recognized as scholars. However, with graduations at every level of education, this tradition loses its uniqueness and profound impression.


Graduation should be a sacred moment celebrated when someone completes higher education and enters the professional world. If every educational level from kindergarten to university conducts graduations, then the meaning and uniqueness of graduation itself will be lost. This does not mean that we do not appreciate the achievements of children and teenagers in completing their educational stages, but we need to reconsider whether it is necessary to adopt the graduation tradition at lower levels.

Instead, we can explore other ways to honor the achievements of children and teenagers, such as award ceremonies at school or other age-appropriate events that align with their educational stage. This will help preserve the meaning and sacred value of graduation at the university level while still giving deserving recognition to those who have completed their education at lower levels. As an innovative and more relevant solution to each educational stage, schools can consider introducing new traditions that accommodate the needs and development of students.

Firstly, academic and non-academic achievement awards: Instead, schools can hold events to acknowledge academic and non-academic achievements. These events will recognize students who have excelled in various fields such as academics, arts, sports, leadership, and more. This will promote a more holistic approach to achievement and reinforce the values that are truly important in education.

Secondly, end-of-year ceremonies: Schools can replace the graduation tradition with an end-of-year ceremony that reflects the celebration of students' success and progress throughout the year. The event can involve artistic performances, award announcements, and shared moments of reflection to honor each student's educational journey. The focus is not just on graduation but also on personal growth and the progress of every student.

Thirdly, humanitarian or environmental projects: As an alternative, schools can organize humanitarian or environmental projects as a form of end-of-year celebration. Students can engage in projects that benefit the community or the environment. For example, they can participate in tree-planting activities, visits to orphanages, or other social initiatives. This will teach values of empathy, social responsibility, and collaboration.

Fourthly, creativity showcases: Schools can organize creativity showcases where students can display their work in various fields such as art, technology, and research. The event can provide a platform for students to express their talents, develop creative skills, and build confidence. It can also serve as an inspiration for other students and reinforce a culture of achievement.

Fifthly, mentorship and alumni sharing: As a substitute for graduation, schools can arrange mentorship sessions or alumni sharing, where students who are transitioning to the next educational stage can receive guidance and inspiration from alumni. Through these sessions, students can gain insights into career development and life experiences from mentors or alumni who have gone through the same educational journey. This will help students prepare themselves for the next steps in their lives.

In pursuing modernization, we must not forget the importance of preserving the sacredness and meaning of the traditions we adopt. We need to recognize the controversies that arise and consider the long-term implications of our actions. Let us think deeply and choose wisely to maintain the integrity of the graduation tradition and ensure that each educational stage has its distinctive and meaningful moments without diminishing the sacred value of graduation at the university level.


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